Thursday, October 20th, 2011

J Cole – Work Out

Yeah, we just covered him, but that one didn’t have Paula Abdul(!)…


Jonathan Bogart: I mean, yeah, he’s totally hitting all my generational buttons, quoting Paula Abdul, reappropriating the g-funk reappropriation of Roger Troutman’s vocoder, and getting a production as clean and snappy as 90s pop-rap at its best. Which would all be so much window dressing, except his conversational flow and just-good-enough rhymes recreate the heyday of pop-rap even better. Sure, it’s a throwback, and one that’s explicitly aiming for the pop brass ring. But who am I to deny such rigorous demographic pandering? The 90s were special because I remember them.

Hazel Robinson: The first time I listened through this, I thought it was exploring whether what was happening was a one night stand or a long-term proposition via just wanting to have crazy amounts of sex. Which is a thing. Turns out it was just J Cole letting a girl down — he’s here for one night, better get the crazy amounts of sex in quickly. The hook sounds like “California Love,” which is not harming this at all, and for quite a brash, abrasive voice, there’s a lot of warmth to Cole — the occasional shout samples push this over the edge into ‘about to haunt my year-end lists.’

Alfred Soto: I don’t remember Paula Abdul fondly enough to appreciate the sample, but I’m old enough to appreciate the early nineties snap of the production, and know enough about sex to savor J’s no-sweat rhymes. Nothing special but I don’t mind it when it’s on, especially since he sums up his appeal more than I can: “Here for one night,” he promises.    

Brad Shoup: God, yes, more Troutman talkbox homages. But not from Cole, who stretches the Zapp too thin across the frame. Drum programming is sloppy, and there’s arbitrary applause all over. By the time he gets to interpolating “Straight Up,” I can’t even muster much pleasure. The radio edit shifts Paula to the intro, so someone official may share my weariness.

Katherine St Asaph: Good-enough guy gets temporary girl and awesome track, hits it, then quits registering among his three decades’ purée of a production (more if you count the Marvin Gaye reference next to the Paula Abdul.)

Jer Fairall: Gooey, cocky, sleazy and, perversely, Paula Abdul-quoting, it’s still woefully charisma-deprived and thus lacking the single redemptive moment that could’ve excused any of the above.  

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